MINUTES, COFOE MEETING OF JULY 14, 2013

The meeting was held at noon on Sunday, July 14, in the meeting room on the Third Floor of 339 Lafayette Street, New York. The room was obtained for COFOE by the Socialist Party, which has its national office on the same floor of the same building. Board members who were present were:

Tom McLaughlin, Reform Party
Charles Sherrouse, Green Party
Harry Kresky, IndependentVoting (also known as CUIP)
Richard Winger, Libertarian Party
Alice Kelsey, Socialist Party
Andrew Spencer, FairVote

Others who attended were these members of the Socialist Party: Elliot Traiman, Greg Pason, Pat Noble, and Ron Van Cleef. Ron Van Cleef furnished refreshments.

Minutes from last year’s meeting were distributed and approved.

These officers were elected or re-elected to one-year terms: Chair Tom McLaughlin, Vice-Chair Harry Kresky, Secretary Richard Winger, Treasurer Alice Kelsey.

The Treasurer reported that we have somewhat more than $1,000 in the bank. The bank is Flushing Savings Bank, 33 Irving Place, New York NY 10003, #68431325. There is another $300 in transit to the Treasurer so the true total is closer to $1,300.

Because this was the first meeting at which a Board member from Fairvote was in attendance, Andrew Spencer explained how Fairvote has recently been working to advance alternative voting systems, including Ranked Choice Voting and proportional representation. Fairvote and New York University are jointly sponsoring public meetings in Washington, DC, on election law issues. June 27, 2013 was on districting; July 9 was on the proposed right to vote constitutional amendment; July 25 will be the impact of new presidential election rules in 2016; August 19 will be about women’s representation; a future meeting, not yet scheduled, will be “Making American Politics Safe for Third Parties.”

Andrew Spencer and Krist Novoselic recently appeared on Russia Today, U.S. version, talking about the advantages of proportional representation, compared to the existing system.

Fairvote is working with groups in New York city to develop a method for the city to use ranked choice voting in Mayoral primaries, in order to avoid costly run-offs that can barely fit into the city’s election calendar. Fairvote is also talking about the idea of modifying top-two systems so that four candidates instead of two appear on the November ballot. Ranked choice voting would be used in November.

Fairvote’s “Monopoly Politics” analyzes every congressional district election.

Under new business, two resolutions were passed: (1) that COFOE ask the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives not to discriminate when the Clerk authors the booklet, “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of (year).” To understand the details, the letter that was later drafted is attached; (2) that COFOE asked Californians for an Open Primary and the California Independent Voters Project to return the $100,000 that the six plaintiffs in Field v Bowen were forced to pay, in attorneys fees. This matter can also be better understood by reading the letter that was drafted, and which is attached.

Richard Winger summarized the ballot access lawsuits that are pending in court in Alabama (March deadline alleged to be too early for petitions for newly-qualifying parties and independent candidates), Arizona (registration form only lists the two largest parties, even though state has 5 ballot-qualified parties, all with their own primary), Colorado (challenging law that lets individuals donate twice as much money to a candidate nominated in a primary, than a candidate who was nominated by petition or minor party convention or who is a write-in candidate), Georgia (challenge to number of signatures for minor party and independent presidential candidates), Hawaii (challenge to February petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties), Michigan (challenge to law that requires twice as many signatures for a new party as votes needed for an old party to remain on ballot), New Jersey (challenge to failure of state to let voters register as Socialist Party members), North Carolina (challenge to May petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties), Pennsylvania (challenge to state’s unique petition-checking system, which leaves petitioning groups open to risks of having to pay $110,000 if petition lacks enough signatures), Tennessee (challenge to number of signatures for new party, which won in US District Court last month and is being appealed by the state), and Vermont (challenge to petition-validation methods, which are more stringent for independents and minor parties than for major party members seeking a place on primary ballot). All these cases are in federal court, except the Vermont case is in the State Supreme Court.

There is also likely to be a new case filed against the Arkansas petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties. The 2013 session of the legislature moved it to January, even though three times in the past, similar early deadlines for that purpose in Arkansas have been invalidated in federal court, in 1977, 1996, and 2006.

The meeting ended at 2:30 p.m.

   Full and fair access to the electoral process is a right central to democracy  

Coalition for Free and Open Elections

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